New York Attorney General, Who Launched Weinstein Co. Probe, to Hold Election Fundraiser at WME – Variety

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who announced an investigation into the Weinstein Company on Monday, will be in Los Angeles on Thursday for a 2018 election fundraiser at WME Entertainment.

The Oct. 26 event, a luncheon at the agency, is hosted by Ari Emanuel, producer-manager Eric Ortner, songwriter Bruce Roberts, tech consultant Greg Mertz, producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, and business executive Jon Vein, according to a copy of an invite.

The event was planned before Schneiderman announced the probe, in which the state attorney general’s civil rights division subpoenaed the company for documents related to settlements of sexual harassment complaints as well as complaints. They also are seeking documents relating to age and gender discrimination complaints.

Schneiderman is expected to run for a third term next year. Tickets for the event are $1,000 per person, and $5,000 to host.

 

In announcing the investigation of the Weinstein Co., Schneiderman said in a statement, “No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment, or fear. If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know.”

Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein’s brother, claimed, along with other board members, that they were unaware of the allegations, even though there have been reports that the board was made aware of at least some of the settlements in 2015.

Schneiderman received a $5,000 contribution from The Weinstein Co. in 2014, and in light of the allegations against Weinstein, his campaign said he would give that sum to Sanctuary for Families, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

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Katy Perry, Archdiocese Awarded $5 Million in Trial Over Former Los Feliz Convent – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


A long-running struggle between singer Katy Perry and Silver Lake businesswoman Dana Hollister over the ownership of a former convent drew to a close Friday when a Los Angeles jury ruled in favor of Perry and the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Earlier this year, a judge had ruled that the archdiocese had the right to sell the property, rather than the nuns who once lived in the Los Feliz property, and thus the nuns’ sale to Hollister was not valid.

Perry had purchased the property for $14.5 million.

The nuns had opposed the 2015 sale to Perry for $14.5 million and tried to sell the property to Hollister, the owner of several restaurants Cliff’s Edge and the Brite Spot. The archdiocese was awarded $3.47 million in attorney fees, according to the Los Angeles Times, while Perry’s Bird Nest LLC company was awarded $1.57 million in fees.

Hollister bought the Waverly Drive property from two of the five remaining members of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who contended they had the right to sell the property. However, at the same time, the archdiocese was working to sell the property to Perry. Hollister’s attorney vowed to appeal the ruling.

In addition, the jury said Hollister acted with malice, oppression or fraud, giving Perry and the church the chance to recover punitive damages in a second phase of the trial next month.

Nearby residents had been concerned that Hollister would turn the secluded compound into a boutique hotel. Perry reportedly planned to turn the convent, which closed in 2011, into a family home for herself and her mother.

 

 

 



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‘True Detective’ Season 3 Casts Carmen Ejogo – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Carmen Ejogo has joined the cast of “True Detective” season three.

Ejogo will star opposite the previously announced Mahershala Ali in the new installment of the HBO anthology drama. She will play Amelia Reardon, an Arkansas schoolteacher with a connection to two missing children in 1980. Ali is set to play Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas. The new season tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.

Ejogo will next be seen in Dan Gilroy’s “Roman J. Israel, ESQ.” alongside Denzel Washington. She currently stars on the second season of the Starz series “The Girlfriend Experience” for writer and director Amy Seimetz. Her credits include “Selma,” “It Comes at Night,” “Alien: Covenant,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and “Born to be Blue.” She recently wrapped shooting on “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” She is represented by WME, Anonymous Content, and Conway Van Gelder Grant.

Executive producers on season three of “True Detective” are Nic Pizzolatto, Scott Stephens, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Steve Golin, Bard Dorros, and Richard Brown. Pizzolatto, the series creator, is serving as director, writer, and showrunner.



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Josh Hartnett, Margarita Levieva Starring in Thriller ‘Inherit the Viper’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Josh Hartnett and Margarita Levieva will star in Barry Films’ crime thriller “Inherit the Viper,” which explores the prescription drug epidemic in West Virginia.

Anthony Jerjen is directing from Andrew Crabtree’s original script.  The project is produced by Michel Merkt (“Elle,” “Toni Erdmann”) and Benito Mueller (“The Whistleblower”) and executive produced by Wolfgang Mueller for Barry Films.

Hartnett and Levieva will portray siblings as they try to escape the spiral of violence that has held them captive since their father’s passing. Their characters deal with a region left behind by the economy, in which selling drugs has become their way of survival and a business that’s very hard to quit.

“’Inherit the Viper’ is a visceral story of a family fighting to escape its destiny,” said Merkt. “I am thrilled to be able to tell it on this third collaboration with the incredibly talented director Anthony Jerjen, whose career I have been following since its very inception.”

Mueller added, “The opioid drug epidemic has become an extremely relevant topic and we hope that Andrew Crabtree’s touching story will resonate with audiences worldwide, as a great thriller and also as a cautionary tale.”

Hartnett starred in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and can next be seen in James Franco’s “The Long Home.” Levieva is  known for her role as Abigail ‘Abby’ Parker in HBO’s “The Deuce” alongside James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Jerjen’s credits include “Trained” and “The End.”

Hartnett is represented by UTA and Management 360. Levieva is repped by UTA and Silver Lining Entertainment. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.



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Jenna Fischer Reflects on ‘The Office,’ Getting Fired From ‘Man With a Plan’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with actress and author Jenna Fischer about the elements of her career that inspired her book, “The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide.”

Fischer, who is best known for her role as secretary-turned-paper saleswoman Pam on the NBC’s adaptation of “The Office,” tells Variety she was inspired to write her new book in part because of interactions she used to have with fans on early social networking site Myspace. There, she ended up writing a “really comprehensive” blog post about breaking into the business that went viral.

“It’s still out there today, and I have acting students who tell me their teachers hand it out to them when they’re graduating,” Fischer says.

She realized she had so much more she wanted to share, including lessons from her earliest days working as an extra in an ad for the “Jurassic Park” water ride at the Universal Studios theme park, which she booked only being in Los Angeles for 48 hours.

“The water ride doesn’t get you that wet, but for the sake of the commercial they had guys with hoses spraying us with water, and then at the end they brought out a water canon that shoots giant icy cold water balls at us,” Fischer recalls, adding that she was on the ride for 12 hours on that nonunion shoot.

Another early job Fischer talks about as part of her “origin story” was being a transcriber at the biannual Television Critics Assn. press tour, which she enjoyed because if you got your work done on time, you could attend the parties. The aspiring actress wasn’t just looking to network with execs and her peers but rather eat the free food and drinks because “I didn’t have a lot of access to food because I was a poor, struggling actress,” she says. “So you might have noticed in the book I do speak a lot about food — how to find food, how to get food on the set.”

It wasn’t long before Fischer was on the other side of the TCAs, though, as an actress on new shows, like “The Office,” from which a favorite memory to this day is still filming big group conference scenes because “John Krasinski would always come out of his shell” during those moments, she shares. “He was always really good [when] it’s hour seven and we’re losing steam, and he would get a second wind and just rally us all into hysterics again.”

Though “The Office” may have been a turning point for Fischer’s career, she notes that an actor’s life is never fully smooth sailing. While writing the book, she was actually fired from what she thought would be her next great comedy and dream job, CBS’ “Man With a Plan.”

Fischer was so confident the Eye was going to pick up the show she had an outfit ready and hair and makeup people standing by for the upfronts presentation announcing the new series. But on the day of those announcements she got a call that it was “bad news.”

“They’re picking up the show but focus groups didn’t love the chemistry between you and Matt LeBlanc — they didn’t believe you as a couple — and
since it’s Matt’s show they’re obviously not replacing Matt. So they’ll be replacing you,” she recalls being told.

Fischer has quite a few pieces of advice for up-and-coming actors in her book, and she offers some of those to Variety as well. Chief among them? “Know what you’re selling, know what your brand is,” she says. And of course, when you go into auditions — some that may be for a lead role, some that may be for only a few lines — you must always show that you’re ready to work.

You can listen to this week’s podcast here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.



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‘Our Justice System Entraps and Harasses Black People’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Jay-Z has been outspoken about what he considers the unfairness of Meek Mill’s recent two-to-four-year prison sentence for probation violation, and on Friday the New York Times published a strong editorial by the rapper criticizing not just the sentence but the entire U.S. judicial system and the probation program in particular.

Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley cited a failed drug test and unapproved travel, stemming from a 2008 gun and drug case, as the reason for Mill’s — real name: Rameek Williams — harsh sentence.

“On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started,” Jay writes. “But consider this: Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life. For about a decade, he’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside.

“What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day,” he continues. “I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s. Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew…. Probation is a trap and we must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison.”

Read his op-ed in full here.

 

 



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Fox Plots ‘Revolution,’ Orders U.S. Pilot of Game Show on Wheels (EXCLUSIVE) – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Show has inline skaters, BMXers and skateboarders compete inside a purpose-built arena

Revolution” could be coming to Fox after the network greenlit a U.S. pilot of the U.K.-originated game show on wheels.

The British series is being made for pay-TV giant Sky’s flagship channel. The format has inline skaters take on skateboarders and BMXers in competition over several rounds in an indoor arena, with ensuing thrills and spills. The British version is being made in a huge warehouse outside London and will go out on Sky in early 2018.

Revolution” was created by Znak & Co., the U.K.-U.S. production company founded by Natalka Znak. She is the former ITV executive behind “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and “Love Island.” She also worked on “Hell’s Kitchen” in the U.K. and exec-produced the first two seasons of the Gordon Ramsay show on Fox.

Znak will exec-produce the U.S. “Revolution,” alongside Glenn Coomber (“Strictly Come Dancing”) and Jenny Stephenson (“Ninja Warrior”). Motion Content Group, the programming arm of advertising giant Group M, is making the original British show with Znak & Co. and and has also boarded the U.S. pilot. Motion CEO Richard Foster is an exec producer.

Sky backs Znak & Co., which is based in London and L.A. Sky Vision handles international sales of “Revolution” with Motion, but the production company is thought to have done the deal directly with Fox. The broadcaster confirmed it had ordered a pilot.

Another possible trans-Atlantic project in the works at Fox is “Man vs. Machine,” from British indie Tuesday’s Child. The show would see humans take on robots in various challenges and has been in early development at the network, but a pilot order is contingent upon the successful development of the machines that would feature in the show.



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The Fall and Rise of the 100-Year-Old Production Powerhouse – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Universum-Film AG is founded in December 1917 during World War I as part of an effort to create greater competition against foreign films and as part of the German Empire’s propaganda machine. Following the war, however, the film company focused on popular genres.

During the 1920s, UFA produces silent classics like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” Other major UFA productions in the era include Fritz Lang’s “Dr. Mabuse,” “Die Nibelungen” and “Metropolis,” for which it builds Europe’s largest sound stage at the Neubabelsberg Bioscop studios (today’s Studio Babelsberg), as well as F.W. Murnau’s “Faust” and “The Last Laugh.”

Following a financial crisis, UFA is taken over in 1927 by the Scherl Group. The company begins making talkies in 1930 with Josef von Sternberg’s “The Blue Angel,” starring Marlene Dietrich, which becomes a worldwide success. Lightweight film operettas replace the more emotional films of the silent era.

In 1933, the Nazi Party rises to power and filmmakers Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Erich Pommer flee Germany. The Reich Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment is formed under Joseph Goebbels to oversee state-controlled film production. Leading production companies UFA, Tobis, Terra, Bavaria and Wien-Film are merged into UFA-Film GmbH.

In April 1945 Soviet Red Army units occupy the UFA lot. The Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft (DEFA) is founded the following year under authority of the Soviet Military Administration. The rest of the Third Reich film assets remain in the Western occupation zones. UFA and Bavaria are privatized in 1956.

German media group Bertelsmann acquires Universum-Film AG and Ufa-Theater AG in 1964. The film stocks of the old UFA are transferred in 1966 to the newly founded Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, which is devoted to the preservation of cinematic heritage.

With the advent of private television in Germany in 1984, Bertelsmann forms the UFA Film- und Fernseh GmbH in Hamburg, concentrating its film and television activities in the holding company.

UFA Film & TV Produktion is formed in 1991 and, under the management of Wolf Bauer, Norbert Sauer and Axel Reickis, soon develops into Germany’s largest production company.

UFA begins its collaboration with Australian media mogul and format developer Reg Grundy in 1991, resulting in the establishment of Grundy UFA TV Produktions GmbH and the hit daily soap “Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten” (Good Times, Bad Times).

With the launch of UFA Cinema in 2008, UFA once again begins producing feature films, including “The Physician.” In 2013 UFA is reorganized into three main units, UFA Fiction, UFA Serial Drama and UFA Show & Factual.



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Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan Will be Kinder, Gentler ‘American Idol’ Judges – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


After nearly an 18-month hiatus since its “final” show last April on Fox, “American Idol” is coming back to television this spring, on ABC, and the new “Idol” crew has been traveling the country taping auditions – both with and without judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. But the triumvirate was complete in Hollywood, Calif. Thursday evening to kick off the first season of the new version of the former Fox reality giant with ABC’s corporate partner Disney announcing it will release the finalists’ album on its Hollywood Records label.

When asked which of the three would take the role of Simon Cowell, the trio immediately chimed in that none of them would.

“We’re artists, not record company executives or critics,” insisted Luke Bryan to Variety. “These 15- and 16 year-olds are still a couple of years away, but you can see their promise, the potential. We’re not there to discourage them. If we word it wrong, they may give up all up.”

Perry agreed, adding that they are “about giving constructive criticism.” Though she still admitted the acerbic Cowell is her favorite judge, she noted that the sensitive nature not only of the youth of contestants but of today’s cultural in general will be reflected in the show. “Young kids take things to heart. I can be sarcastic as all get out, and even a little snarky,” she said. “Like Simon, I’m also a truth-teller, a straight shooter. But at the end of the day, I’m not here to tell anyone they suck. It’s not about that.”

Richie noted that though the trio are judges, they are also producers, and that factors into how they will talk to the talent on the show. “Imagine I’m producing Diana Ross. I will tell her just enough truth to inspire her to give me more in the studio,” he explained.

Whether or not “American Idol” can recapture the zeitgeist with a new iteration in a world where any kid with an iPhone or laptop can upload his or her performance to YouTube and overnight turn into a viral sensation will remain to be seen. But perhaps because of new technology, the abundance of emerging artists is stronger than ever.

“The show is coming back at a perfect time,” insisted Perry. “There’s just too much choice out there. You don’t know who to focus on.”

Richie, who Perry has jokingly dubbed “the dad-slash-chaperson” of the group added that the show “is like a filter where only the strong survive.” He noted that if he had to go through the process “Idol” contestants embark upon with rounds of auditions and live shows, he “would have fainted on the spot. “I was so shy as a 15-year-old. I didn’t have the confidence to walk out on that stage and do what these kids do,” he shared.

Richie says that the “Idol” regimen is reminiscent of the heyday of Berry Gordy’s Motown assembly line, “but not quite as brutal. They wouldn’t invite you in the front door without a hint of something brilliant.”

Meanwhile, Bryan has been inspired by the audition process to up his own game. “We’ll tell these contestants
to give us all they’ve got, and then I find myself asking myself the same thing. When you hear that God has laid his hand on these people’s voices, it makes you want to go out and be a better artist yourself.”

“American Idol” premieres Mar. 11 on ABC.



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‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Boss on Laurel’s Baby, the Latest Victim and Asher’s Arrest (SPOILERS) – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Live. Live. Live,” the winter finale of the fourth season of “How to Get Away With Murder.” 

The season 4 winter finale of “How to Get Away With Murder” inched its audience closer to learning what happened to Laurel’s (Karla Souza) baby after Annalise (Viola Davis) found her passed out in her hotel elevator, in the middle of a bloody delivery. But true to form, the show also introduced a whole new set of complications, especially around the accidental shooting of Caplan & Gold colleague Simon (Behzad Dabu) and Asher’s (Matt McGorry) subsequent arrest.

“We didn’t know [when we broke this story] that we’d only be airing eight episodes before the winter break,” executive producer Pete Nowalk tells Variety. “So normally we would catch up to Laurel screaming, “Where’s the baby!?” and we actually tried to write a version of this episode that had all of that in it, but we realized we couldn’t fit all of that in one hour because we also knew someone was going to get shot, who wasn’t one of our characters, at the party. So you’ll see the rest of those flash forwards in the premiere.”

In the wake of the powerful episode, executive producer Pete Nowalk talks with Variety about the fate of Laurel’s baby, Annalise learning who really killed Wes, and Asher’s arrest.

Was the version of that scene on the page always lingering with Laurel to capture those emotions?

No, it was not. Usually we inter-cut things a lot more, and that was definitely written that way, just in the typical style. It was really her performance. She just did it. She was never breaking, and I just wanted to stay in it. It felt refreshing and really hard to watch and painful, but that’s what I found different about that moment. And the episode until that point had been so crazy, rewinding and bouncing around in time, that it just felt appropriate. So we restructured it to stay in the moment longer.

What led your writers’ room to determining Annalise would have to deliver Laurel’s baby after Laurel passed out, stuck on an elevator?

Once we knew that we liked her waking up and saying, “Where’s the baby?” we kind of started [there]; we kind of knew what was going to happen. It was refreshing for me. I think I’m just tired of not knowing what happens because it’s usually torture for me, in my brain, to get to this episode in the season and not know and freak out and lose sleep. So it was nice, and we designed that elevator for that reason.

Annalise has been working toward redemption this season. Where do you feel her actions in this episode fall into that work?

Annalise, all season long, has been very consistent in wanting to get rid of the drama. All she did was show up at home, and someone’s in her elevator. She had nothing to do with this. I’m very proud of her for not drinking and sticking to her class-action. She wants to be a hero — for herself as well as these other people. And now it’s like, “What’s going to get f–ked up now?” She’s dragged into this mess, and she’s going to have to really figure out if she wants to be and what’s going to suffer. She’s been through enough suffering!

As much as she’s been staying away from drama, now that she knows who really killed Wes, is there a part of her that wants to get back involved to right the wrong?

Yes, that’s definitely true, and that’s going to be a big dilemma for her. Do you forgive and forget? She’s lived her whole life doing the opposite. She’s been a fighter because otherwise you end up at the bottom. So she’s going to have to really take a hard look at what sort of life she wants now.

How much of her response to and the way she dealt with Laurel and that baby was because of the connection to Wes?

She’s grieved her own lost child and Sam, but I almost feel like that moment with Laurel in the elevator is as raw and naked as we’ve ever seen Annalise. Yeah, she thinks that baby is a little Wes, and she’s lost her own baby, and there she is. She got it to cry. It’s really a heroic moment for her.

Is that a glimmer of hope then?

Yes!

It seemed surprising that Simon could be in the hospital after the severity of the shooting. How is the fact that he could potentially survive going to haunt characters like Michaela (Aja Naomi King) and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora)?

The question for them is [that] they did not want him to die — they didn’t want any of this to happen — but do they want him to die now? What’s better now: for him to live or for him to die? That’s the moral quandary that lies ahead.

Were you trying to make a commentary on gun control or responsibility?

I am a big advocate of gun control and laws and regulations, just personally. But basically, office accidents — those freaking wheely chairs, I’ve almost tripped over — that’s what I was interested in. Yes, we try to teach the audience things and we try to learn things as writers, but I don’t think we’re sitting on any high horse to say, “Watch the show and learn how to be a better person.”

Was there ever a temptation of drawing out what happened to Simon in more of the murder mystery fashion of previous seasons?

At a certain point in the season if we really didn’t want to give answers, I know I would get frustrated with the show. And I’ve always liked giving the answer and moving on, especially because we still don’t know what happened in the hospital. We wanted to give you some answers.

Michaela really took control in the situation. Is that indicative of who she is now, or will emotions catch up to her?

The first season — the first murder — Michaela was a mess and as hysterical as I think any of us would be. And I think she’s learned from that and now she’s, frankly, a little more Annalise. That’s the evolution of her. She’s still human and upset at the end of the episode, seeing Asher get arrested, but she’s a boss.

Speaking of that arrest, was that part of a bigger plan?

That is the question for all of the characters. We don’t know what Asher said to that detective. Is he being smart? Is he being stupid? There wasn’t enough time for them to find fingerprints on the gun, so it clearly had to be something he said. The question is, can he dig his way out of this and help them dig their way out of this?

Will Connor (Jack Falahee) come to regret telling Annalise who killed Wes?

I think it was a good decision because she’s ultimately the one who can save them all.

That’s a bold statement. Just how lost are they all without Annalise at this point in their lives and careers?

They’ve learned a lot, but they’re definitely not her yet. She has this rare survivor quality that they’re all going to have to lean on again.



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